At the second I snapped this, I knew it would be the Siblings photo for this month. Taken yesterday, on the 15th (the allotted day for these monthly photos), at approximately 7am.
We had travelled to visit family for a celebration on Saturday and were staying in a nearby hotel for that one night. The fire alarm in the hotel woke us all from our deep slumber at 620am, and we spent 40 minutes in the car park whilst the lovely firemen arrived to check the hotel out.
Bizarrely, I'd had a premonition that this would happen, just before going to sleep, and I'd checked the back of the door for the fire exit route. That's my top tip for if you're ever staying away in a hotel!
On reflection, it was interesting to see how the girls reacted to this unexpected occurrence. Our eldest was quite panicky - we're not sure where or when it started but she's had a fear of fire for a long time. She wanted to leave in her pyjamas, carrying as much as she possibly could. That included my necklace from the bedside table, which she knows I love and which she decided I wouldn't be able to live without, bless her. Tamsin did manage to pull herself together enough to then be able to help me with our youngest girl.
Sasha, who is autistic, was more visibly upset and started crying, quite quietly. She wasn't panicked as such, but had no idea what to do and she was scared. I managed to dress her and get her out fairly quickly though, and luckily grabbed my bag with my car keys in as we left the room so we didn't have to stand around in the cold.
It hadn't been a hugely successful weekend all round, to be fair. The three hour car journey at the start was too much for Sasha, despite the fact we let her sit in the front of the car to try and alleviate the travel sickness. I think sometimes people don't believe me, or don't understand when I try to explain about Sasha's distress at travelling in the car (by train is hardly any better), so I did take this photo of her when we stopped at the services. Tears were rolling down her cheeks and her face was all blotchy. She was ripping a tissue into tiny shreds. You can see the stress and anxiety, and it's not nice. Can someone please invent a real tardis?!
Sasha couldn't face entering the church for the First Holy Communion (which was just as well, as it was packed to the rafters and would have been a nightmare for her!). Her Dad had to take her to calm down in the hotel, then she joined us at my brother's house for the party after. By that point she was too tired and hungry to be sociable though, and none of the food seemed right for her, so she struggled to be with everyone else and just wanted me to stay with her in a quiet room. I eventually suggested she go back to the hotel with her Dad for an hour, just so that I was able to talk to my family! Meanwhile, Tamsin was having a whale of a time playing nicely with the other nine children who were there. Which is great, and how it should be, but does of course highlight how much is difficult for Sasha. When she returned from the hotel, she was constantly at my side, asking if we could leave again. There's no let up really.
My reason for sharing this is mainly to document how challenging social occasions can be for, and with, a child with Pathological Demand Avoidance. I see our eldest girl having fun, and I see the difference. I'm not sure everybody does. It's not Sasha being naughty, and it's not us being too lenient with our parenting. Of course there are 'good' days for Sasha, but as she gets older they seem to be happening less often, despite our best interests.